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Denver Union Station Update #113

Beyond the obvious importance to the region’s transportation future, one of the other benefits of the Denver Union Station project is the addition of several new public spaces to Downtown Denver. In particular, Wynkoop Plaza will be not only the largest of Union Station’s new public spaces, but potentially the best public plaza in all of Downtown.

The southern part of Wynkoop Plaza will feature a signature fountain: the pop-up water-jet type that allows kids (and adults and dogs) to play in the water on a warm day. People love interacting with water, and people love watching people interacting with water. Therefore, the fountain at Wynkoop Plaza is likely to be a hit with visitors and locals alike.

In case you haven’t seen some of the concept renderings of the Wynkoop Plaza fountain, here are a few (courtesy of SOM/Hargreaves Associates, the project’s design consultants). First, the larger context: the Downtown side of the DUS project and the south part of Wynkoop Plaza.

 

Ground-level concept views:

 

How is construction of Wynkoop Plaza and its signature fountain coming along? Here’s a shot I took this weekend:

Lots of serious fountain infrastructure there. That’s going to be one impressive fountain!

By the way, because I know some of you are going to bring this issue up, I’ll address it now. Denver doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to keeping fountains in good working order on a long-term basis. Our typical fountain experience in Denver is like this: 1.) New public fountain gets built. 2.) Fountain works great for a few years. 3.) Fountain stops working. 4.) Fountain sits unused and in disrepair for a long time. 5.) Concerned citizens eventually say “What a shame. We should get this fountain going again!” 6.) Fountain repair fundraising and/or Denver bond issue ensues. 7.) Fountain gets fixed and works great for a few years. 8.) Rinse and repeat.

So what will be different this time? Well, that issue has been a primary focus of Union Station Advocates, an organization that I’ve been involved with for many years. We want to make sure that not only the fountain, but all of Denver Union Station’s public spaces are well maintained over the long term. Currently, RTD, the Denver Union Station Project Authority, and other stakeholders like Union Station Advocates and the Downtown Denver Partnership are working together to craft a funding and management plan for Wynkoop Plaza that will ensure that years from now, kids (and adults and dogs) will still be splashing around in the fountain at Wynkoop Plaza. Stay tuned…

Meanwhile, thank you to the 31 people who attended our walking tour of the Denver Union Station project yesterday! That was a great way to start of our 2013 tours of this exciting project. Our next tour is scheduled for Saturday, March 30, at 10:00 AM. More info on that as the date approaches.

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11 Comments

  1. Brennan Walter says:

    Hey Ken, thanks for the update! It’s super exciting and promising to see all that footwork and I absolutely can’t wait to be on the first (or one of the first) trains to arrive in the new facility. I really appreciate the time and energy you put into documenting the nation’s only major central rail terminal construction project.

    Also, I’m also super excited that I’ll be able to finally attend your next DUS tour! Whoo!

  2. Dan says:

    I also hope we maintain the fountain Ken – that is not a just passing fancy. I think it is a good idea, though I worry what it will be like during the cold weather months. I also like the amount of trees planned for this plaza – I hope they are taken care of and kept alive. Trees are one of the best features of the 16th street mall. Trees elsewhere in downtown streetscape are pathetic primarily because they simply are not taken care of and the surrounding hardscape is just so challenging for a tree. I do wish the plaza space at union station had more flower bed planting, similar to the plaza near the Marriott hotel on 17th and California (used to be called Manville Plaza) or the plaza at 1225 17th Street. They are quiet and cool sanctuaries – even in winter. Always a favorite place downtown. Union Station Plaza could use those types of planting spaces – they are clearly successful at these locations.

  3. Fred says:

    Fun tour Ken. Also quite ‘colorful’ (Green) interactions with the passing crowds. That served as a great example of how popular the new infrastructure is already being put to use.

    • Ken Schroeppel says:

      Thanks, Fred. It was a fun tour and indicative of the spontaneity of a passing crowd. Thanks for coming along!

  4. Hi Ken,

    Quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed your tour and talk on Saturday. It’s exciting to see what our “little city” is becoming. Wish my dad had been able to join us — he did appraisal work on Larimer Street and surrounding areas back in the 1970s, “when the police didn’t come west of Market and God didn’t venture past Blake!”

    Oh what a difference an innovative community, 40 years and hundreds of millions of dollars can make!

    Thanks again,

    Amy

  5. Nathanael says:

    Here’s a question: the historic station is closed now, for the hotel work. But there doesn’t seem to be any scaffolding up. When is the actual work on the hotel in the historic station going to start? This could delay the schedule for returning Amtrak to the station, if it doesn’t go through on time.

    • Ken Schroeppel says:

      Nathanael: Work has been progressing inside the station since December. I don’t think there will be any scaffolding on the outside of the building, only interior work.

      • Nathanael says:

        I thought that a bunch of extra dormers were going to be added. Can’t do that from the inside, can you?

        • Ken Schroeppel says:

          Nathanael, I may be wrong, but I don’t believe extra dormers are needed, at least anything requiring external work. However, from what I understand, there is a lot of interior scaffolding and other work going on. I’ll let you know if I hear anything different.

  6. jeffreymiller says:

    The water fountains are just literally, wasteful. Projects the wrong message. Denver Water should have a kitten over this plan. And as Dan alluded to, in winter, this space will be a wasteland. Better, follow the lead of REI and make a real, fake landscape here. What’s so hard about that?